“Over And Done?” Not So Much…

When I had the adventure last summer of overturning a lawn tractor on top of myself and laying in the icy stream until the rescue crew could arrive, when it was over and done I thought it was over and done.  Recently I’ve had confirmation that the incident was not “over and done” once the rescuers tipped the tractor enough to extract me from underneath it, retrieved the tractor from the creek, and my psychedelic bruising finally migrated to my toes and then faded after a few weeks.  True enough, the bone bruise to my shin was swollen and discolored for the better part of a year since but that has subsided.  Nevertheless the incident was probably the final straw for the cartilage in my knee which now requires some surgical housekeeping next week.  Everyone who has been scoped and vacuumed assures me it is a piece of cake.  That would please me if it is true for the experience to be a piece of cake rather than a $%^& sandwich.

As to the tractor itself,  it started right up after sitting upright for a day and I was able to resume mowing once my leg felt better in a week.  However, I could not get the 48″ mower to cut evenly and I spent a fair bit of time tinkering with the levelers on the deck.  I got it better but never really was able to cut the lawn as smoothly as before.

This summer I got through one full mowing with the same problem of unevenness but on the second mowing the mower deck kept throwing off the 10-foot serpentine drive belt (the mower deck has three cutters, which I cannot recommend as it adds considerable complexity and fragility to the system).  Despite all my additional efforts to get things aligned I could not get it to work.  I wound up detaching and removing the mower deck from underneath the tractor and the problem was immediately apparent; the center drive hub had become completely broken and was no longer aligned with the other two cutters/hubs, so of course it was going to throw off the serpentine belt.  In fact I think the hub was so broken that the only thing holding it in place was all the grass mulch packed up against it.  two of the four flange ears were broken completely off, the other two were hanging by a thread.  No wonder I had been unable to get the mower to cut smoothly by simply tinkering with the levelers.

This systemic failure must be a weak point in the mower deck design because when I called our local shop the center hub was one of the parts he always keeps in stock.  I got a new one, swapped it out for the old one, and once I re-installed the deck and adjusted the levelers the mower cut like a champ.  I still have to adjust one or the other of the levelers about 1/8″ to get the cut perfect, but I was very pleased at troubleshooting the problem ad resolving it.  Not as pleased as if I had derived the answer last year and several hours of work earlier, but now it is good to go.

On top of al that I figured out how to email myself pictures from my phone.  I am walking tall today!